Chicago Publishers: Spotlight on… Tyndale House Publishers

Like suburban neighbor Sourcebooks, Tyndale House was originally based in the founder’s home. Now one of the largest Christian publishers, Tyndale actually has its roots in self-publishing. In the 1950s, Dr. Kenneth Taylor began paraphrasing the King James version of the Bible in order to help his children comprehend the family’s nightly Bible readings. When he finished, Taylor and his wife were so pleased with the result that they spent their own money to produce 2,000 copies of what they called “Living Letters,” what would eventually become the “The Living Bible” and would spend three years as the best selling book in America.

In addition to founding Tyndale House Publishers – named after William Tyndale, who was burned at the stake in the 16th century for translating the Bible into English – Taylor and his wife also established the Tyndale House Foundation in order to make grants to support Christian work around the world. The Foundation was initially funded by the royalties from the various iterations of “Living Letters,” and is now the owner of Tyndale House Publishers, thus funding it additionally with the profit from the publishing house. Tyndale House’s website has this to say about the Foundation:

Over the years, the Foundation has made thousands of grants to support Christian work across a wide variety of categories. Traditionally, the Foundation’s primary focus has been Christian literature work, including new translations of the Bible in languages around the world. But the Foundation also makes grants in areas as diverse as Christian higher education, evangelism, disaster relief, and Christian social services. From 1963 to 2008, the Foundation’s grants totaled $59 million. But after adjusting for inflation, this equates to $139 million in today’s dollars.

Continuing from the great success of “The Living Bible” in the 1970s, Tyndale House is home to some very well-regarded Christian writers like Beth Moore and Dinesh D’Souza. In addition, Tyndale House Publishers had 10 books on the New York Times Bestsellers list in 2010.

Check out Tyndale House online:

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Chicago Publishers: Spotlight on… Sourcebooks

Welcome to Sourcebooks, the largest woman-owned trade book publisher in North America!

Sourcebooks is also the first of the publishers in my Chicago Publisher Spotlights which I have already worked extensively with. In particular I am a big fan of the historical fiction published by Sourcebooks. They have brought many authors to the United States whose works have previously only been available from the United Kingdom, re-released some classics of historical fiction, and published some new great historical fiction. Just because that is my favorite thing they do, though, Sourcebooks is by no means only a publisher of historical fiction.

I have known for a long time that Sourcebooks is one of the larger independent publishers and that they were started by Dominique Raccah, but in researching this post I learned a lot of new and interesting things about Sourcebooks. For instance, Raccah didn’t just start Sourcebooks in 1987, she started it in her upstairs bedroom with $17,000 from her 401k after leaving a career in advertising. Starting with a single title, “Financial Sourcebooks Sources,” Sourcebooks moved first into professional finance titles, followed by business titles. Although they have expanded to many other areas, these finance and business titles continue to be very successful for the publisher.

Around the sections of the blogosphere I frequent, Sourcebooks seems to be best known for historical fiction, romance, Jane Austen sequels, and the still very new young adult imprint, Sourcebooks Fire. Although Sourcebooks Fire was, as far as I know, created from scratch, one of the biggest ways that Sourcebooks grew was actually by acquiring imprints such as Casablanca Press, which became Sourcebooks Casablanca and publishes relationship, sex, and wedding books, as well as romance novels.

Sourcebooks is not content to simply rest on its laurels. Dominique Raccah is always exploring new methods for content distribution and seems to be well-known in the industry as someone who is exploring the cutting-edge of the future of publishing. If she can go from her upstairs bedroom to publishing over 300 titles per year in just about 20 years, I can’t wait to see what she’ll do next.

To close, I thought I’d just leave you with a few covers of recent or upcoming Sourcebooks releases I’m really excited about:

I have already reviewed “For the King’s Favor,” and you can look for my review of “The Passionate Brood” during the first week in November. The other two I’ll have to get my hands on at some point.

Chicago Publishers: Spotlight on… Featherproof Books

There are some really great publishers in Chicago which is, of course, why I am doing these spotlights. One of the most creative I have found during this feature is featherproof books. I mean, come on, the first sentence in their about statement is “featherproof books is an indie publisher dedicated to doing whatever we want.”

featherproof books was formed about five years ago by Zach Dodson and Jonathan Messinger while they worked on the launch of the TimeOut Chicago book section launch. Initially, featherproof books was all online mini-books which could be printed out and folded together. They do publish print books as well, and they treat each as an unique object of art. Zach tells me “We just didn’t see too many places publishing what we liked when we started, so we decided to make our own niche and fill it.”

Some of featherproof books most recent print books:

featherproof books also has a free iPhone app called Triple Quick fiction. Not only can you download short stories (only 333 words long!), but you can also compose your own story and submit it to the featherproof editors. Don’t forget to check out the mini-books as well!

Chicago Publishers: Spotlight on… Oasis Audio

This week I am continuing the spotlighting of Chicago-area publishers by talking about another new-to-me publisher, Oasis Audio. Come on, you all know I couldn’t possibly resist including an audiobook publisher, as obsessed as I am these days by the format!

Oasis is based out of the Western suburbs of Chicago and was founded in 1999. They originally began publishing self-help and inspirational titles but have since expanded to include Bibles, business, children’s, fiction, and non-fiction titles – both faith-based and general market – as well, a total of over 120 per year from more than 20 print publishers.

I spent some time emailing with Jordan, Oasis’ Web and Digital Coordinator to get an idea of what makes Oasis special. He told me that Oasis is dedicated to publishing only titles that they believe will enrich the lives of their customers in some way. Each title is extremely important to them and they try to put out only the highest quality product.

I encourage you to spend some time checking out Oasis Audio and their new releases. I am particularly looking forward to the two titles by Pearl S. Buck, author of “The Good Earth.”

Chicago Publishers: Spotlight on… Other Voices Books

In addition to talking about Chicago authors this month, I also want to highlight some of the great publishers based out of Chicago.

For my inaugural Chicago Publisher Spotlight, I wanted to tell you all about a fairly recent discovery of mine, Other Voices Books. I’ve chosen to start with them for a number of reason: I cannot wait to read some of their books, particularly after Margie and Sue from The Bookstore talked so much about Billy Lombardo’s “How to Hold a Woman” (more about this title later this month!); they are a Chicago press with a number of Chicago authors; in 2005 they were one of the first fiction-centered independent publishers to emerge in Chicago, and; they are highly committed to the Chicago literary community and to helping Chicago become more prominent in the publishing community.

But let me tell you why you should care about Other Voices Books!

The genesis for Other Voices Books was the literary magazine Other Voices (1984-2007) by the magazine’s Editor Gina Frangello and a contributing editor, Stacey Bierlein. The mission of the press is to champion short fiction, whether in short stories, novels in stories, or themed anthologies. They feel this is an important goal in an industry that, as they say, “has increasingly marginalized the short story form.” It all started when they held a contest and published the winning short story collection as a book. That first book, “Simply,” ended up the only indie book to be a SCIBA Award finalist that year. Frangello tells me that their “interest is in bold and vibrant literary fiction that is rich in character, takes emotional risks, and is accessible and engaging.”

Another thing I find very interesting about Other Voices (although maybe this is just me, dork that I am), is their operating model. They were essentially the first imprint of Dzanc Books, another independent publisher. There are now 7 not-for-profit imprints of Dzanc, which now all collaborate on printing, design, and marketing, and share a distribution channel. I could be wrong, but this seems like an incredibly smart model for a boutique press like Other Voices which publishes 1 or 2 titles every year, giving that author or two their full attention.

Other Voices’ books, beginning with the most recent:
Currency” by Zoe Zolbrod* (Chicago author)
Other Resort Cities” by Tod Goldberg – one of the stories from this collection has been optioned by FX for a tv series
How to Hold a Woman” by Billy Lombardo (Chicago author)
Things That Pass for Love” by Allison Amend – IPPY Bronze Medal winner (Chicago author)
A Stranger Among Us: Stories of Cross-Cultural Collision and Connection” edited by Stacy Bierlein – IPPY Gold Medal and International Book Award winner
O Street” by Corina Wycoff – Lambda Award finalist
Simplify” by Tod Goldberg – SCIBA Award finalist

*Note: “Currency” is Other Voices Books’ first novel, and the first book in their Morgan Street International Novel series. They are in the process of expanding their vision to include novels set outside of the United States, another area in which they feel American literature is in deficit.